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Pittsburg State’s John Brown blazes way onto NFL draft boards

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 4:07 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 1:51 p.m.

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In the time it took him to run 40 yards at the NFL Combine — which you’re about to find out isn’t very long — a lot of things changed for John Brown.

“It’s been crazy,” Brown said. “It’s been everybody calling me, every team wanting to meet with me and work me out. Everything kind of all at once.”

After three All-America seasons at Pittsburg State as a wide receiver and return specialist, Brown earned an invite to the NFL Combine in February, where he put himself on NFL teams’ draft boards by running a blazing, 4.34-second 40-yard dash and displaying the type of route-running ability and hands scouts didn’t expect to see on a player coming from the NCAA Division II level.

But more than anything, it was the 40 time — second only to Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks’ 4.33 — that is keeping Brown’s name circulating before the May 8-10 NFL Draft.

Brown has been home in Miami since January, living in a condo with several other prospects and training with Bommarito Performance Systems and doing football skill work with former NFL wide receiver Kelley Washington. He went back to Pittsburg once, for pro day.

“Washington is a great dude, every time I caught the ball he had me sprint 20 yards ... even if I dropped it, actually,” Brown said. “So when it came time for the combine and pro day, catching the ball and moving with it was easy in my mind.”

Brown (5-foot-10, 179 pounds) helped lead the Gorillas to the Division II title in 2011 and is their career leader in catches (185), receiving yards (3,300) and receiving touchdowns (32). He started adding to his post-collegiate resume by shining in the practices leading up to the East-West Shrine game first, then following that by a big performance at the combine.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called Brown “ a touchdown waiting to happen” last month.

NFLdraftscout.com, along with CBSSports.com, projects Brown as a sixth or seventh-round pick.

Pitt State hasn’t had a player drafted since running back Ronald Moore (fourth round) and defensive end Troy Wilson (seventh round) were selected in the 1993 draft.

Brown flew to Detroit on Tuesday to meet with the Lions and has already had visits with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins. He’s flying to New York next week to meet with the Jets.

He says he’s stayed away from any type of draft-related material on the Internet and has stopped watching ESPN entirely leading up to the draft.

“I think third or fourth round I’m coming off the board, but I haven’t been looking at the mock drafts or any of that stuff,” Brown said. “I know I’ve been criticized for how small I am, but that’s another point to prove for me. People have been telling me I’m too small to play football my entire life.”

In two matchups with Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir, a projected third-round pick, Brown had five catches for 86 yards and one touchdown in 2012 and three catches for 91 yards and one touchdown last season.

Brown said he’ll watch the draft with his family. He has a 2-year old daughter, Caia, who has been a major source of motivation.

“She’s a huge part of why I want to make it,” Brown said. “I’d do anything for her and I want her to have a better life than I had growing up.”

Reach Tony Adame at 316-268-6284 or tadame@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @t_adame.

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